Marijuana Legalization Is Hitting Mexican Cartels Where It Hurts Most

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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The legalization of marijuana production in certain U.S. states is hitting Mexican farmers hard, and taxing the massive, near omnipotent drug cartels south of the border. A Mexican farmer used to earn $100 per kilo of marijuana and now earns $30 per kilo, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Production in Mexico has decreased in tandem with U.S. legalization, and there is less trafficking of marijuana from Mexico to the US. Two-thirds of marijuana in the U.S. came from Mexico in 2008, and now the amount is down to less than one-third.

The reduction in U.S. consumption of Mexican marijuana and an increase in US production has led to the Sinaloa Cartel making less money from marijuana production in recent years, Antonio Mazzitelli who represents the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Mexico who spoke with the the Los Angeles Times.

Mexican federal authorities have had to destroy significantly fewer illicit pot farms in recent times. According to the Mexican Attorney General’s office, in 2010 more than 44,000 acres of marijuana fields were destroyed by the Mexican government, and in 2015, the number is down to around 12,000.

Twenty-three states have legalized marijuana production and consumption for medical purposes and Washington, Alaska, Colorado, and Oregon have legalized production and consumption for recreational purposes. With increased legalization has come more investment in the legal U.S. marijuana industry, which was worth $1.5 billion in 2013 and almost doubled in size to $2.7 billion in 2014.

Mexican cartels have predictably adapted, shifting their focus to the production and trafficking of hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin. According to a November report by 60 Minutes, federal investigators have doubled efforts to focus on heroin coming from Mexican cartels.

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